Saturday, March 22, 2008

Solumn Vigil of Easter

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
When Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night,
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slav'ry,
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night,
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is night,
when Christians ev'rywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night,
when Jesus broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled to God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

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State Capitol notes

For those who didn't get a chance to hear my podcast Thursday night, a whole host of good people should be publicly thanked for extending their hospitality to both myself and to Fabian Story during our trip to the Capitol this past week. I personally owe a huge thank-you to my State Representative, the Honorable Frank Niceley, and an equal one to Rep. Stacey Campfield. As usual, Frank and Stacey went out of their way and above and beyond the call of elected duty to insure that we had everything we needed while in Nashville. Hospitality is not a requirement to make someone a good legislator, but it tells me a lot about the measure of these two fine men. As Fabian did on his blog, I also want to thank Ms. Ruth Adams, Frank and Stacey's able and industrious Administrative Aide, who is one of the friendliest ladies you'll ever meet.

I also want to thank Rep. Bill Dunn for showing such unmerited kindness. I truly believe that Bill is the closest thing to a saint on the Hill-he is both holy enough to deserve that accolade and humble enough to deny that it is true. Rep. Harry Brooks deserves special mention as well for being so gracious to me on the House floor Thursday morning, and he is a class act. I also want to thank Reps. Dennis Ferguson and Matthew Hill for being so enjoyable and keeping in such good humor. These fellas not only enjoy what they do, they also really seem to have a lot of fun.

Those of you who are people of prayer might join me in praying for Rep. Mike Bell, who injured his leg fighting a fire. He's getting around the Capitol on crutches right now, and is likely in no small amount of pain. Even with all that, he went out of his way to make us feel welcome. We first crossed path going opposite directions on and off of an elevator, and as soon as he saw it was me he stopped to say hello.

Many others also had a kind word to say or a helping hand, but in a week of history it is most noteworthy that Fabian and I did bump into John Wilder on Wednesday outside the Lieutenant Governor's office, and had the opportunity to greet and shake the hand of the most senior Senator the day before he announced that he was retiring. I wish I had a working camera with me at the time, because for the sake of posterity I would have asked for a picture.


Richardson and the Clintons

When New Mexico Governor and former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson decided to endorse Barack Obama, he did what he thought was the right thing and called his old friends the Clintons to let them know. First Read gives us a taste of an interview with Richardson on NBC Nightly News last night:

Richardson described the conversation that he had with Clinton last night "tough."

"It was tough to make the call, but I did. It got a little heated. It got a little tense. But it was understood, and I'm proud of my decision."

"We have a man who's won many, many primaries. Who's won the most primaries and delegates. Who's unifying the party and the country. Senator Clinton has run a great race, I'm not saying she should withdraw that's her decision. But we can't be wounded heading into Denver and the Democratic convention with negative campaigning. And this campaign has gotten too negative," he said.

"But I do so now just with enormous enthusiasm but enormous respect. I believe that Senator Obama is going to be the nomnee. I'm not asking anybody to get out of the race, but I believe it's time to get behind a nominee who can win," Richardson said.

Richardson's endorsement of Obama is huge, especially after the horrible week Obama has had with the Jeremiah Wright affair and continuing questions about his loyalty or his suitability for the White House. As a conservative Republican and avowed non-Obama supporter, the apparent Clinton reaction is what tells me that the Clintons were and are bad for the country. I can hear it now-"listen, you cheap little ****, we made you, you owe us, and this is how you repay us?"

As someone who has been around politics at some level for a good part of my life (and I am still young relative to those with years of experience), one thing I have learned is that you do need to help your friends when you can. I've had a number of political friends help me along or do things for me and never ask anything in return, yet I know that if I am in a position to one day return the favor to some of those folks, I will gladly do so provided no one asks me to do anything illegal, immoral, or unethical. One thing I will never do is vote in a way that I believe to be wrong just to return a favor or assist a friend. That is essentially what the Clintons want from Bill Richardson-they believe he owes them his endorsement despite the fact that he obviously doesn't believe Hillary is the best choice for the country right now, and they want him to defy his conscience because they helped make his current political career what it is today.

So what? I'm sure the day will come (if it hasn't already) when Richardson can lend the Clintons a hand in some way, but it shows what a lack of conscience the Clintons have that they would not understand an act of conscience on the part of someone they know. Bill Richardson does not need friends who have no conscience, and America doesn't need a President without one either.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday of the Lord's Passion

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

John 18:1-19:42:

When Jesus had said these things, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where there was a garden, into which he entered with his disciples. And Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place; because Jesus had often resorted thither together with his disciples. Judas therefore having received a band of soldiers and servants from the chief priests and the Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said to them: Whom seek ye? They answered him: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith to them: I am he. And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them.

As soon therefore as he had said to them: I am he; they went backward, and fell to the ground. Again therefore he asked them: Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he. If therefore you seek me, let these go their way. That the word might be fulfilled which he said: Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one. Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And the name of the servant was Malchus.

Jesus therefore said to Peter: Put up thy sword into the scabbard. The chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Then the band and the tribune, and the servants of the Jews, took Jesus, and bound him: And they led him away to Annas first, for he was father in law to Caiphas, who was the high priest of that year. Now Caiphas was he who had given the counsel to the Jews: That it was expedient that one man should die for the people. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. And that disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the court of the high priest.

But Peter stood at the door without. The other disciple therefore, who was known to the high priest, went out, and spoke to the portress, and brought in Peter. The maid therefore that was portress, saith to Peter: Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith: I am not. Now the servants and ministers stood at a fire of coals, because it was cold, and warmed themselves. And with them was Peter also, standing, and warming himself. The high priest therefore asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him: I have spoken openly to the world: I have always taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither all the Jews resort; and in secret I have spoken nothing.

Why asketh thou me? ask them who have heard what I have spoken unto them: behold they know what things I have said. And when he had said these things, one of the servants standing by, gave Jesus a blow, saying: Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him: If I have spoken evil, give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikest thou me? And Annas sent him bound to Caiphas the high priest. And Simon Peter was standing, and warming himself. They said therefore to him: Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said: I am not.

One of the servants of the high priest (a kinsman to him whose ear Peter cut off) saith to him: Did I not see thee in the garden with him? Again therefore Peter denied; and immediately the cock crew. Then they led Jesus from Caiphas to the governor's hall. And it was morning; and they went not into the hall, that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the pasch. Pilate therefore went out to them, and said: What accusation bring you against this man? They answered, and said to him: If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee.

Pilate therefore said to them: Take him you, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said to him: It is not lawful for us to put any man to death; That the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he said, signifying what death he should die. Pilate therefore went into the hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done?

Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice. Pilate saith to him: What is truth? And when he said this, he went out again to the Jews, and saith to them: I find no cause in him. But you have a custom that I should release one unto you at the pasch: will you, therefore, that I release unto you the king of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying: Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

Then therefore, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon his head; and they put on him a purple garment. And they came to him, and said: Hail, king of the Jews; and they gave him blows. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith to them: Behold, I bring him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in him. (Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment.) And he saith to them: Behold the Man.

When the chief priests, therefore, and the servants, had seen him, they cried out, saying: Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith to them: Take him you, and crucify him: for I find no cause in him. The Jews answered him: We have a law; and according to the law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore had heard this saying, he feared the more. And he entered into the hall again, and he said to Jesus: Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore saith to him: Speakest thou not to me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and I have power to release thee?

Jesus answered: Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above. Therefore, he that hath delivered me to thee, hath the greater sin. And from henceforth Pilate sought to release him. But the Jews cried out, saying: If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar's friend. For whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar. Now when Pilate had heard these words, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat, in the place that is called Lithostrotos, and in Hebrew Gabbatha. And it was the parasceve of the pasch, about the sixth hour, and he saith to the Jews: Behold your king. But they cried out: Away with him; away with him; crucify him. Pilate saith to them: Shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered: We have no king but Caesar.

Then therefore he delivered him to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him forth. And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha. Where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title also, and he put it upon the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title therefore many of the Jews did read: because the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin.

Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am the King of the Jews. Pilate answered: What I have written, I have written. The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified him, took his garments, (and they made four parts, to every soldier a part,) and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said then one to another: Let us not cut it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, saying: They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lot. And the soldiers indeed did these things. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen.

When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar and hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.

Then the Jews, (because it was the parasceve,) that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that was a great sabbath day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came; and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he that saw it, hath given testimony, and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true; that you also may believe.

For these things were done, that the scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of him. And again another scripture saith: They shall look on him whom they pierced. And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea (because he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus also came, (he who at the first came to Jesus by night,) bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. They took therefore the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Now there was in the place where he was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no man yet had been laid. There, therefore, because of the parasceve of the Jews, they laid Jesus, because the sepulchre was nigh at hand.


No respect?

As readers know, I was in Nashville Wednesday and Thursday attending several House Committee hearings and Thursday morning attended the House session and was extended the dignity of the floor by my Representative Frank Niceley, as well as by Assistant House Republican Leader Harry Brooks and former House Republican Leader Bill Dunn, the three of which I sat behind and between during the House session, respectively (thank you all for your kindness and hospitality, and for that of Rep. Stacey Campfield). On my way back from the House session , I passed by the closed-circuit plasma television on the wall across from the cafeteria near Lt. Governor Ramsey's office tuned to the Senate session. Along with others who stood there to witness history live, I saw this:

It was former Lt. Governor John Wilder announcing that he would retire from the Senate at the end of his current term this year. Wilder served 36 years and his announcement provoked an outpouring of praise from his colleagues.

Having been on the House floor a couple of times, I know that the rules of the House are rather lenient on dress but do require that men wear at least a sport coat and tie, and I have to assume Senate rules are much the same. Like many East Tennesseans, I'm also a big race fan, and like most of you I prefer blue jeans and a tee shirt to a coat and tie at almost any time. Some occasions and some places demand the dignity of a jacket and tie, and the floor of the Tennessee Senate is such a place.

The malcontent who represents my district apparently has little respect for the Senate and no respect at all for the man he rose to praise so highly, and supposedly thinks of as a mentor. Mike Williams had the gall to rise in praise of Governor Wilder dressed in jeans and a NASCAR jacket.

That's how he represented our district on such an important day in Tennessee history on the floor of the Senate.

Thank God and Mike Faulk he'll soon be gone.


A common occurrence?

At the State Department, some contractors apparently thought it would be a fine thing to sort through Barack Obama's passport records:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday she has apologized to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for an incident in which State Department contractors unnecessarily reviewed his passport file.

The episode raises questions as to whether the actions of three contractors, two of whom have been fired, were politically motivated.

Rice said she spoke with Obama and told him she was sorry. The secretary said she "told him that I myself would be very disturbed."

It is not clear whether the employees saw anything other than the basic personal data such as name, citizenship, age and place of birth that is required when a person fills out a passport application.

Bill Burton, a spokesman for Obama's presidential campaign, called for a complete investigation.

"This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years," Burton said. "Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes."

There are certainly many questions about Barack Obama's background that are curious to say the least, and there are lots of things about the man we still don't know-indeed, it appears on some days as though Obama has come out of nowhere. This reality has led many Americans to be curious about him, and not a few rumors have circulated about who Obama is and what he is about precisely because his past is largely a mystery to many. I think the American people want to know much more about Obama than we do-but with even with that in mind, this was highly inappropriate and those involved need to all be fired.

There is no proof (nor will there likely ever be) that anyone in the current Administration authorized this action. You can say what you like about the President, but the operatives around him are too shrewd politically to think that a passport records pull could happen without it being found out in short order. What this does point to is the great unease that some citizens might have about Barack Obama, and it permeates even contractors working for the Government.

What ought to be investigated is not whether the Administration authorized pulling Obama's passport records, but rather how often are people's passport records and other private information pried into without proper authorization or without warning? That is what needs to be looked into-was what happened to Obama's passport records a common occurrence.

UPDATE: The State Department now says that the Passport Records of all three candidates were breached.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Journey to Nashville


Fabian Story and myself journey's to Nashville to observe a bit of the present session of the Tennessee General Assembly, and have a very busy time. We witness Democrat Committees shoot down good bills, and history-the retirement announcement of former Lt. Governor and Speaker of the Senate John Wilder (D-Mason).

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Holy Thursday

Exodus 13:1-14:

And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first in the months of the year. Speak ye to the whole assembly of the children of Israel, and say to them: On the tenth day of this month let every man take a lamb by their families and houses. But if the number be less than may suffice to eat the lamb, he shall take unto him his neighbour that joineth to his house, according to the number of souls which may be enough to eat the lamb. And it shall be a lamb without blemish, a male, of one year: according to which rite also you shall take a kid.

And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month: and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood thereof, and put it upon both the side posts, and on the upper door posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh that night roasted at the fire, and unleavened bread with wild lettuce. You shall not eat thereof any thing raw, nor boiled in water, but only roasted at the fire: you shall eat the head with the feet and entrails thereof. Neither shall there remain any thing of it until morning. If there be any thing left, you shall burn it with fire.

And thus you shall eat it: you shall gird your reins, and you shall have shoes on your feet, holding staves in your hands, and you shall eat in haste: for it is the Phase (that is the Passage) of the Lord. And I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and will kill every firstborn in the land of Egypt both man and beast: and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be unto you for a sign in the houses where you shall be: and I shall see the blood, and shall pass over you: and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I shall strike the land of Egypt. And this day shall be for a memorial to you: and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord in your generations with an everlasting observance.

Matthew 13:1-15:

Before the festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And when supper was done, (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him,) Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he came from God, and goeth to God; He riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments, and having taken a towel, girded himself. After that, he putteth water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered, and said to him: What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith to him: Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me. Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.

For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: You are not all clean. Then after he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, being set down again, he said to them: Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Off to the Nash

Fabian Story and myself are off to Nashville in the morning for a couple of days of visiting, politicking, connecting, snooping, and newshounding. We'll leave at around five in the morning and plan a working breakfast with the Blue Collar Muse at around 7:00am. Then we'll attend House Committee Hearings and may even pop in on the Senate gallery-where we just might witness history with the rumored retirement of former Lt. Governor Senator John Wilder.

We'll blog live from the Capitol tomorrow.

I'll be back in plenty of time for Mass Thursday evening-we'll attend the morning House session and depart with the legislators.

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Gospel for Tuesday of Holy Week

John 13:21-38:

When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled in spirit; and he testified, and said: Amen, amen I say to you, one of you shall betray me. The disciples therefore looked one upon another, doubting of whom he spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him: Who is it of whom he speaketh? He therefore, leaning on the breast of Jesus, saith to him: Lord, who is it?

Jesus answered: He it is to whom I shall reach bread dipped. And when he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.And after the morsel, Satan entered into him. And Jesus said to him: That which thou dost, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew to what purpose he said this unto him. For some thought, because Judas had the purse, that Jesus had said to him: Buy those things which we have need of for the festival day: or that he should give something to the poor. He therefore having received the morsel, went out immediately. And it was night.

When he therefore was gone out, Jesus said: Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God also will glorify him in himself; and immediately will he glorify him. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You shall seek me; and as I said to the Jews: Whither I go you cannot come; so I say to you now. A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.

Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered: Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow hereafter. Peter saith to him: Why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thee. Jesus answered him: Wilt thou lay down thy life for me? Amen, amen I say to thee, the cock shall not crow, till thou deny me thrice.


Williams not running yesterday, running today-tomorrow, a new spin

Betty Bean wrote a boo-hoo piece in the Halls Shopper in which she interviewed State Senator Mike Williams, who declared that it is the fault of all of us evil Republicans that he isn't running for re-election:

“The combination of seeing people in elected office say one thing publicly and get to Nashville and act 100 percent opposite,”’ Williams said. “I caught heat for voting for last year’s budget. Not one Republican voted for it in our area, but my school systems got badly needed extra money. I voted for the cigarette tax, too, and it funded a regional trauma center here in East Tennessee.

This was all part of Williams' pork reward for voting with Bredesen and against his party, but most importantly against the wishes of a majority of his informed constituents. If Williams does not run for re-election, it will not be because he "doesn't want to do it anymore," but because he has figured out that he can't win outside of Union County. I wouldn't count on him not running, as he is an independent only in name-Bredesen and the Democratic Leadership stand at the ready to help him get re-elected.

A couple of days ago, I would have said this was all a bluff, but if there is any truth to the rumors that former Lt. Governor John Wilder (the man who has served as Williams' chief enabler) may retire from the Senate this week, there is a bit less incentive for Williams to run. Wilder's district has trended increasingly Republican in recent years, and that trend could translate into a Republican pick-up. Unless the Democrats win an overall majority in the Senate without Wilder's seat, the GOP could solidify its hold on the Senate and leave a re-elected Williams isolated. The Democrats would no have use for him and the Republicans could not trust him.

If Williams does not step aside, he will lose in November. We will do our part to see to that much.

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Tuesday of Holy Week-Economic reality

By now we know that Bill Hobbs' optimistic view of the economy was just that-overly optimistic, and it isn't talking down in the least to say that the economy is down the toilet:

The Fed's main achievement so far has been to stir a global lack of confidence in the greenback. By every available indicator, investors are fleeing the dollar for other currencies and such traditional safe havens as gold and commodities. Oil has surged to $110 a barrel, up from under $70 as recently as September. Gold is above $1,000 an ounce, up from $700 in September, and food prices are soaring across the board. The euro has hit record heights against the buck, and for the first time the dollar has fallen below the level of the Swiss franc.

Speculators are adding to this commodity boom, betting that the Fed has thrown price stability to the wind in order to ease U.S. housing and credit woes. The problem is that dollar weakness is making both of these problems worse.

No doubt strong world growth explains part of the commodity price rise this decade. But the dollar price of oil has surged by some 60% since September, even as U.S. growth has slowed sharply. If the dollar had merely retained its value against the euro, oil would be in the neighborhood of $70 a barrel. Dollar weakness explains a large part of the oil price surge.

The truth is that, as ever, the fate of the dollar is in our own hands. Inflation is always a monetary phenomenon, determined by the supply and demand for a currency. The supply of dollars is controlled by a monopoly known as the Federal Reserve, and at any moment the Fed can produce more or fewer dollars. The Fed can also influence the demand for dollars by maintaining a commitment to price stability, or it can reduce that global demand by squandering its anti-inflation credibility the way it is now.

While it is true that the Bush Administration could help speed the economy along by increasing its own rhetoric in favor of a strong dollar (right now the Administration is giving the opposite impression), the Federal Reserve is not helping matters by giving global investors and currency traders no confidence in American price stability. The Wall Street Journal is also right to point out something that the average American is probably not aware of: The global price of oil is measured in U.S. dollars. That means that if the dollar is weak and is suffering from an inflationary trend-as it is now-the price of oil will increase as the value of the dollar decreases. Oil is trading at around $110 a barrel, so what does that say about the current value of the dollar on the world market? As oil prices (pegged to the value of the dollar) increase, so do the prices of gasoline and diesel fuel, and with them the price of everything we eat, drink, and wear.

The Democrats are proceeding to engage in the same tired politics and blame the Republicans for the entire problem. While there is little doubt that the present economic situation certainly favors the Democrats in the fall, we should remind ourselves that if a Democrat were in the White House, Republicans would be playing these political games with the economy as well. The hard fact is that both sides are somewhat to blame and banks, investment firms, and even consumers all bear part of the responsibility for the current crisis. The spiral really began in the 1990's when banks and credit firms began to make loans to people who weren't good for the money-and a lot of these firms were very much aware of that risk. Consumers acted irresponsibly in spending money they did not have, thereby taking on too much debt. The Democratic solution is always to raise taxes on someone, but in this present climate "blame the rich" can only go so far. Raising taxes on anyone will not solve the present crisis, but stabilizing the dollar will go a long way toward that end. The Fed should remember that reality, and so should all of our presidential candidates.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day bluegrass

Ricky Skaggs and The Chieftains


Wilder retiring?

This is big news:

…former Lt. Gov. and current West Tennessee State Senator John Wilder will announce that he will not seek re-election to the legislature next year. Wilder had previously stated that he would be running.

While predicting what moves Wilder will make is and has always been a tricky task, several sources have confirmed to that an announcement from the long-serving politician will come this week, possibly as early as today on the Senate floor.

I just spoke with a source at the Capitol who is "in the know," and that source says that there has been no announcement today, but that the rumor in question is circulating. My guess would be that if there is truth to this, we'll hear more before the week is out.


Celebrate Ireland and celebrate faith

The Ave Maria-from Chloe Agnew of Celtic Woman

The Dublin Reel


And who told you so...?

Certain of our Democratic friends are shocked-shocked, I say, to learn that playing politics with race, ethnicity, and gender will lead to infighting and even racist rhetoric. From my good friend Sharon Cobb:

Shouldn't we [liberals] be dancing in the streets singing "We Shall Overcome" alternated with "I Am Woman?" That's what we sang in the 60s and 70s, respectively.

This is not the way I thought it would be.

Isn't this the payoff for the tear gassing we got during civil rights marches, sit-ins and for having the courage to practice civil disobedience? Isn't this what we believed could happen and now that it has happened, what are we doing? We're tearing each other apart.
The problem is that our friends on the hard Left did more than advocate for mere equality under the law, they have spent the last 50 years busying themselves with making political issues out of race, gender, and ethnicity. What's more, they have continued to make political issues of those things long after the campaign for equal rights for all in this country had reached its zenith and achieved its primary goal of equality written into the law and equality before the law for all Americans regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity.

Some folks on the Left live under the illusion that government can do more than extend the protection of the Constitution to its people. Somehow, government is supposed to regulate the human heart. Sit-ins, marches, and civil disobedience can (and did) change the law for the better to insure legal equality. However, none of those things can erase people's personal prejudices and it is not the government's place to try and do so. Government can only insure legal equality, but it can't make the people embrace in their hearts what they do not wish to accept.

Conservatives with conscience have understood this reality for years. Some of us have warned the party opposite that continuing to play politics with race, ethnicity, and gender and turning races and ethnic groups into political interest groups will cause strife within their party and the country (which is far worse). Rather than promote equality, healing, and a spirit of tolerance and acceptance, conservatives warned that politicizing race and gender would bring out the worst in people, not the best-remember the politicizing of race was practiced first among whites, and largely in the South!

The Democratic Party has hyphenated America into a million little subgroups, and now our friends wonder why all of their "work" is backfiring. The work of those who fought for real equality over the years is not truly achieved until all of us, black, white, Hispanic, male, and female, can see ourselves as every one an American first.

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A reel good time

The Chieftains and Friends-a reel from Matt Malloy's Pub (1999)


Orange and the Green

The Orange and the Green-the Wolfe Tones.


Monday of Holy Week-St. Patrick's Day

For the first time that I can recall in my lifetime, the Feast of St. Patrick falls during Holy Week. This is a rather fitting coincidence considering that Patrick first confronted the pagan druids in Ireland by lighting the Easter fire and defying druid custom on the 26th of March in the Year of Our Lord 433-Easter Sunday. This was the day Patrick planted the seed whereby the Holy Faith would be spread throughout Ireland, and then from the Irish to much of the rest of the Western World.

Much like Paul-who was sent to Macedonia through visions, Patrick was confronted by visions which entreated him to return to Ireland and convert the people there to the Faith. This was after he had been captured as a youngster by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. After years of captivity, he escaped and would later return to Ireland as priest and Bishop. His missionary zeal served (and continues to serve) as inspiration for succeeding generations of the Church to spread the Good News of Christ at all costs.

Patrick would survive to see virtually the entire Irish nation converted to Christ within his lifetime. Many did not believe it was possible, but Patrick understood that all things were possible with God. Many people simply see today as a day to wear green and celebrate Irishness at some level-and it is that. It should be remembered, however, that what we celebrate is not merely Ireland, the Irish, or the strong Celtic heritage or tradition in Tennessee or much of our country. We celebrate not merely Irishness, but Christian Irishness-the conversion of the Irish people (the people to which many of our ancestors belonged) to the Gospel of Christ.

Patrick was sent to the portals of Glory on March 17th, 493 at Saul (Subhall) in what is now County Down in Ulster. His name, legend, and influence would spread far beyond the land to which he was commissioned to preach.





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Sunday, March 16, 2008


I realize that I am one of the last to post about this, but I just learned of the sad news last night that A.C. Kleinheider was dismissed from his position at WKRN in Nashville as the newsroom's regular blogger, and publisher of the station's political blog Volunteer Voters. It is, as others have said and I will say here, a terrible loss for the political blogosphere in Tennessee. Largely because of Kleinheider's dilligence, the work of bloggers who were keen to bring attention to elements of State and federal politics not being fully covered by the mainstream press was given much greater exposure.

For many of us (and no small number of people on the Nashville Hill), we made ACK a part of our daily routine. I was able to be informed about Middle and West Tennessee politics in a way that I previously was not, largely because the East Tennessee press does not cover them. I discovered a host of bloggers from around the State and became turned on to their work because of Kleinheider-and many of these are people with whom I very often passionately disagree.

A.C. Kleinheider is a great writer, a passionate blogger, and as a person he is a class act. It is my sincere hope that he will remain in Tennessee and that he will resume blogging independently-the loss of his talents to the rest of us in the political blogosphere would be immeasurable.

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Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Matthew 21:1-13:

And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto mount Olivet, then Jesus sent two disciples, Saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you, and immediately you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them and bring them to me. And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye, that the Lord hath need of them: and forthwith he will let them go. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell ye the daughter of Sion: Behold thy king cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of her that is used to the yoke.

And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them. And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid their garments upon them, and made him sit thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way: And the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: Who is this?

And the people said: This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the chairs of them that sold doves: And he saith to them: It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.

Not five days after throngs of people welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as Priest, Prophet, King, Savior, and Lord, these same people were shouting for him to be put to death. The reason, of course, was because they were expecting Christ to be someone that he was not, and to behave in the way that they thought he should as opposed to the right way.

Folks wanted to hear the message they were comfortable with, as opposed to the truth.

The lesson in all of this teaches us why it is that many public figures are too often afraid of the truth-the truth was so powerful that it got Christ crucified.

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